April Showers and May Vegetables

May 2018 Update

One of my favorite seasons has arrived, and with it the first life of the season. This spring has been particularly difficult. In fact, the way we went from freezing cold temperatures to summer like weather deceivingly makes me feel like we missed it!

It is always incredible to watch as spring rain coats plants and in essence begins to paint the landscape green. You can tell the season has changed when the first perennials begin to emerge. Walking around my yard, early spring begins to reveal plants like chives and asparagus.

The fruit tree buds begin to swell and quickly bloom into a brilliant white.

And garlic pokes it’s way up through the soil to get a head start on the year.

I’m especially eager (some would say impatient) to get out and start planting my spring transplants and seeds. April 15th is my normal date for planting these, however with the colder temperatures this year, I was a bit delayed (see why here). The first sign of warmth and we were out planting seeds like: carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, and peas.

I waited for a cloudy day to get out and plant the transplants in an effort to avoid transplant shock. The weather did not want to cooperate though and instead of it being a cloudy day, it was a sunny inferno (80 degrees). Needless to say, we had about 15 plants fry and another 40 go on life support. The good news was that nearly all 40 have made a triumphant comeback. Of the plants that went out, we transplanted: rapini, cauliflower, bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, romanesco, kale, spinach, mizuna, arugula, brussel sprouts, radicchio, and green onion.

On a more positive note, using the no dig approach and layering compost and leaf mulch on top of the soil is really starting to pay off. Not only was the soil a deep black coller and loose in texture, but it also had many of the good soil guys living in it. Things like worms, and one of these coily dudes.

Finally, if you go past my yard, you’ll notice a lot of yellow currently. It is dandelion season and although many people are not big fans, I tend to enjoy them for one main reason - wine. This year I decided to give dandelion wine another shot (last time did not go so well… it wasn’t my fault).

The trouble with making this wine is not that there is a shortage of flowers, but rather the effort that goes into harvesting and then de-greening them before primary fermentation. Using the greens apparently imparts bitter flavors in the wine and that is something I prefer to avoid. For one gallon of wine, i picked a little over two quarts of flowers and left only the yellow petals.

Hopefully it turns out better this year than previously. I’ll let you know how it is when I taste it… a year down the road.

Until next time!

About the Author

Geoff has been growing plants and vegetables consistently for the last 6 years and actively experiments with, and writes about, all aspects of gardening.

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